Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Journalism, politics, and Shannon O'Brien. Back in July, when WLVI-TV (Channel 56) announced it had hired the 2002 Democratic candidate for governor, Shannon O'Brien, as a consumer reporter, observers agreed that O'Brien would have to take care not to be seen indulging her political passions.

"If her first crusade is against alleged consumer fraud by the Romney administration, then there might be some questions," UMass Amherst journalism professor Ralph Whitehead told the Globe on July 11.

So what was O'Brien thinking when she made a purely political speech before the Worcester Democratic City Committee last night?

According to this account (subscription required) in the Worcester Telegram & Gazette, O'Brien whacked Mitt Romney, the man who defeated her in the gubernatorial campaign, saying of his fee hikes: "We see now what the truth is about not raising taxes. It comes a little late for me."

She also dumped on George W. Bush and praised John Kerry, urging Democrats to drive to New Hampshire and work on Kerry's presidential campaign.

As for her duties as a TV reporter, which begin in two weeks, O'Brien -- a former state treasurer -- told the crowd, "I'll speak up for people who have been ripped off by businesses and I'll make sure that government is doing the right thing by them."

O'Brien would be a lot more credible in that role if she'd refrain from making what T&G reporter Mark Melady described as "what at times sounded like a campaign stump speech."

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